Robert Thomas, the facilitator of the Eagle Innovation Center at Georgetown High School, is working to custom face shields to help protect front-line workers in Williamson County using the center's 3D laser cutter machine, a news release said.
As of April 13, Thomas said he had made and delivered 500 shields.
“I really appreciate what the health professionals are doing out there, and I'm really pleased to be able to just be a small part of helping them," Thomas said in the release. "I miss my students and wish they were back helping me with this, but I'm glad they're all home and safe, and hopefully, a little bit of what I'm doing can help keep them safe.”
Thomas is working with the Georgetown Health Foundation, which provided him funding for supplies through the $746,000 worth of emergency grants it received to help Williamson County nonprofits stay afloat and provide critical services during the fight against the new coronavirus.
The shields have been distributed to Lone Star Circle of Care health centers in Georgetown and throughout Central Texas as well as to Williamson County Jail staff and local hospitals, the release said.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to work with a group that’s here locally that had an idea that was practical, workable and that was particularly useful for what we do every day on the frontlines," said Kathleen V. Butler, chief medical officer at Lone Star Circle of Care, in the release.
The project came about when Georgetown Health Foundation CEO Scott Alarcón approached GHS about using its 3D printer to help address the shortage of personal protective equipment for front-line health care workers, the release said.
After Thomas found it was taking about two hours per shield on the 3D printer, he designed a process to make four masks in six minutes using acrylic sheets and a laser cutter, the release said.
“This effort illustrates the impact that innovation centers like this can have," Thomas said in the release. "These spaces with fabrication tools, especially in schools, are the kind of places that you would expect to be able to support the community in times of need like this."
The GHF funded production of the first 500 masks, but Thomas is working to get additional funding and materials for future masks, GHF spokesperson Russ Rhea said.
Georgetown High School teacher 3D-prints 500 face shields for Williamson County health care workers
Georgetown High School teacher Robert Thomas, left, has made 500 face shields to help area health care workers. (Courtesy Georgetown Health Foundation)